If there is any reporter who met his moment these last few weeks, it’s been Robert Costa, who’s been timely, essential and correct. His exit interview with McConnell is interesting. Basically, it confirms there can be no bargain with the Democrats on the budget because of the GOP’s absolute insistence on no net revenue gains at all, unless they are “dynamically scored”:
When the speaker has had conversations with the president over the last three years, they have always insisted on a $1 trillion tax increase — revenue scored by the Congressional Budget Office. That’s their demand for any major entitlement reform. But we don’t think we should have to pay a ransom to do what the country needs.
So giving the Democrats something in return for entitlement reform is “ransom.” It doesn’t get much clearer than that. But this is a relief, if it holds up in the next few months:
One of my favorite sayings is an old Kentucky saying, “There’s no education in the second kick of a mule.” The first kick of the mule was in 1995; the second one was the last 16 days. A government shutdown is off the table. We’re not going to do it … [W]e’re not going to do this again in connection with the debt ceiling or with a government shutdown.
I may be misinterpreting the exchange but that sounds like future debt ceiling brinksmanship is not something McConnell supports. Sahil Kapur notes too that “a provision in the Wednesday legislation allows Congress to vote on a ‘motion to disapprove’ of a debt limit hike, without a real threat of default. That suggests the debt limit appears to be returning to its traditional place: an opportunity for the party out of power to grandstand and score political points against the president.” “Suggests” is not “proves”, but it could be something.
Looking back at today, we launched the great salsa-ketchup Drudge-Dish debate, maybe out of punchy loopiness after the last few weeks of reckless brinksmanship. But I took a moment to fisk a paragraph on Fox News’ website that revealed the stark surrealism of Tea Party absolutism. Even Grover Norquist sounded moderate as countless beards were shaven. We analyzed the votes of the Republicans in Congress, and counted the human casualties and broader economic damage they have already done to the economy since 2010. One reader told us all to cheer up, as I urged the president to return to Bowles-Simpson and backed a Democratic wave in 2014 as the best response to the excruciating legislative poop-throwing of October.
The most popular post of the day was “The Tea Party As A Religion“. The second most popular was “The Sabotage Of American Democracy.” In October, our traffic so far at the halfway point is almost as much as all of September. Blame – or credit – the Tea Party!
See you later tonight on AC360 Later and in the morning.
(Graph: current polling on the race for the House in 2014, less smoothing, via Pollster)